The New York Times has an article on the Iraq Study Group's upcoming recommendations. The Iraq Study Group, you'll remember, is that bipartisan group of foreign policy experts who recently won the US Congressional elections last month.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group has shied away from recommending explicit timelines in favor of a vaguely timed pullback. The report that the panel will deliver to President Bush next week would, at a minimum, leave a force of 70,000 or more troops in the country for a long time to come, to train the Iraqis and to insure against collapse of a desperately weak central government.
...The group never seriously considered the position that Representative John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who is a leading voice on national security issues, took more than a year ago, that withdrawal should begin immediately.
Murtha's not an expert, apparently, since he's a Democrat. I'm confused, though, because this Post article is in contrast to the Washington Post's story that the the Iraq Study Group is recommending a full troop pullout.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday.
Or is it? Later in the piece, here's the kicker.
Pulling out combat units would not mean the end of the U.S. military involvement in Iraq, which could continue in a different form for years. The withdrawal would be partially offset by an influx of advisers, trainers and embedded troops. The number of such troops now stands at roughly 5,000 and should be quadrupled to about 20,000, the group's plan says, according to a source. The commission envisions leaving at least several thousand quick-strike U.S. combat soldiers to protect all those other American troops.
Although it was not clear how many U.S. troops would be left in Iraq by 2008, some people knowledgeable about the commission's deliberations have said that it might be possible to reduce the force of 140,000 to half by then. "There'll still be a presence there that will be significant just because of the nature of embedded forces," said one of the sources familiar with the commission's report. "It won't be what we have now, I'll tell you that."
Ok, great. So by 'withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units' the Post actually means 'keep 70,000 troops in Iraq as advisors with guns and bases'.
I'm so glad Very Serious People are in charge and are able to put together Very Serious Bipartisan Study Groups that ignore hippies like Jack Murtha and the American people.
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